Lucrecia Martel's Zama (2017), set on the outer colonial frontiers of the Spanish Empire during the last decade of the eighteenth century, pushes traditional notions of a colonial adventure tale to its parodic limits. Martel's deliberate use of layered auditory and visual clues, including off-screen space and decentered compositions, creates a state of confusion that reproduces in viewers the anguish and incomprehension that plague her protagonist. Lucrecia Martel's Zama joins a small but impressive selection of recent Latin American films that challenge and often parody established ways of telling the colonial past, including the Brazilian films Joaquim (Marcelo Gomez, 2017) and Vazante (Daniela Thomas, 2017); Niles Attalah's Rey/King (Chile, 2017), and Jauja by Martel's compatriot Lisandro Alonso (2014). Martel's style makes the past entirely her own. Martel answers questions from the authors at length in this article.
“I Was Never Afraid,” An Interview with Lucrecia Martel
Gerd Gemünden teaches in the Department of Film and Media Studies at Dartmouth College. He is the author of Continental Strangers: German Exile Cinema, 1933–1951 (Columbia University Press, 2014) and numerous articles on European and US cinema. His yearly reviews of the Berlin Film Festival appear in Film Criticism. He is currently completing a manuscript on Argentine director Lucrecia Martel for the Contemporary Film Directors series (University of Illinois Press).
Silvia Spitta is professor of Spanish and comparative literature at Dartmouth College. She is the author of Misplaced Objects: Collections and Recollections in Europe and the Americas (University of Texas Press, 2009) and Between Two Waters: Narratives of Transculturation in Latin America (Texas A&M Press, 2006). She works on visual and material culture in the Americas and recently curated a citywide exhibit of the photographs of Martín Chambi in the streets of Cusco, Peru. She is currently writing a book about early Andean photography.
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Gerd Gemünden, Silvia Spitta; “I Was Never Afraid,” An Interview with Lucrecia Martel. Film Quarterly 1 June 2018; 71 (4): 33–40. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2018.71.4.33
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